I recently travelled to India to visit with some pastors. The work they are doing within the conditions they are facing, would drop any of us to our knees, it did to me. They are serving others, persevering, and building the church with more fortitude than I’ve ever seen.
And let me admit that India was beyond difficult for me. I’ve travelled. I’ve travelled a lot, I’ve been in poverty and challenge throughout Africa and Latin America, Eastern Europe and China. But India it is said, is an assault on every sense.
Don’t picture the business districts of Mumbai, we were in the back alleys of New Delhi and sweltering sauna of the northern rural areas. (I do not want to communicate any disrespect to friends in India.) India showed me how weak I really was: The intensity of the traffic and the smell and no sanitation, the filth, the temples of dark idols, the in-your-face poverty, and the despair behind the eyes.
There was a moment when I looked at myself and said, “The fruit of the spirit has left me completely!” I was just emptied out and on fumes with a short fuse. And at that low point, I admittedly thought to myself, “I don’t want to be here, in this mess. I can’t do this. Someone else is going to have to step into this mess. Not me.”
When I got home finally and rested and got over predicted Delhi Belly. I spend some time journaling about what had happened.
And Christ cut me to the heart.
He said “Craig I was in the glory and beauty of Heaven, in perfect harmony with the Trinity. All was right and good and true and loving. And I decided to put all of that away from on high to enter this broken dark messy filthy world of stress and pain and traffic and lies and hurts and sin.
I came from my high place to the lowest of low places, to the lowest of low people (you Craig) in order to bring them up. I entered the mess to bring grace. I want you to know that is who I am, I want you to tell people that is what I do, and I want you to be willing to do the same.”
We avoid mess. Mess requires more than we have to give, more internal resources than we have to draw upon from ourselves. Mess isn’t just inconvenient, mess can be assaulting. And yet, Christ modeled life in the mess. He calls you and me into the mess.
Is there a mess you have been avoiding (I can quickly think of one for myself!) Is it in your own life? Your family? Your relationships, your workplace? An issue He’s asked you to stand up for, a community He’s asked you to serve?
We can’t avoid the mess forever. Avoiding the mess is to avoid His people. Avoiding the mess, is to avoid Christ, He is in the mess. Maybe the mess is where the beauty and blessing of God which we have longed for, is waiting. Let’s become mess-worthy followers of Jesus.